Cleaner water is clearer water
Oysters are filter feeders, meaning they draw water in from their surroundings to feed on nutrients, plankton, and other microorganisms. Thus, this process leaves the expelled water cleaner than it had been previously. A single adult oyster is capable of filtering anywhere from 20-50 gallons of water daily.
Many coastal regions throughout North America and elsewhere have seen massive declines in wild oyster populations over the last century. Fewer oysters means fewer naturally occurring water filterers. The rise in industrialization and pollution has resulted in a significant decline in water quality has been a detrimental result. Recently, several of these impacted areas have implemented projects to restore water quality through increasing oyster populations as an eco-friendly solution.
Water Flow / Filtration Diagram
"A new Water Quality Trading Program allows organizations to buy and sell nutrient credits to help clean up the bay. This means organizations who discharge nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus can trade credits with Orchard Point, whose oysters help remove nutrients. This financial incentive helps clean up the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, and encourages the growth of oyster aquaculture."
Video and description by Maryland Farm & Harvest
Eelgrass / Estuary Effects
One of our highest priorities concerning the introduction of the proposed farm is to understand how it may impact the ecology of Antigonish Harbour. Eelgrass in the harbour plays a key role in the overall health of the ecosystem. Cleaner water containing fewer suspended solids equates to clearer water, clearer water blocks less sunlight, allowing more sunlight to reach underwater aquatic vegetation. This aids in necessary photosynthesis resulting in healthier, more robust vegetation growth. These benefits are not limited to the immediate farm lease locations. More oysters in the harbour leads to cleaner water, which should benefit eelgrass beds throughout the entire estuary.
We are concerned about all environmental impacts our farm may have including the impact on eelgrass. We arranged to have Dr. Jeffrey Barrell, a recognized authority on marine vegetation including eelgrass, come to the proposed sites to do a visual examination. His assessment of the situation is ongoing. We expect to have more definite feedback prior to filing our lease application.
Scientific opinion was offered Aug 13, 2019 during our public panel discussion. If such a farm occupies 10% or less of an estuary the effect is at worst benign. Ours is planned to occupy only 2% of the Antigonish Harbour estuary. Please view farm size statistics here.
"On the eastern coast of Canada, eelgrass is a habitat for many fish, providing them shelter and good feeding and rearing grounds. Scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada discovered that oyster aquaculture can contribute to the overall health and productivity of eelgrass on a larger bay scale, and now they’re investigating why. Learn about the science behind this interesting study."
Video and description by Fisheries and Oceans Canada
An oyster's shell is 12% carbon. As oysters grow, they combine dissolved carbon dioxide with calcium to form calcium carbonate which they use to form their shell. This carbon dioxide, once converted to calcium carbonate, is permanently stored in the oyster shell and will not return to the ocean or atmosphere. There is a direct relationship between levels of dissolved CO2 in the ocean and CO2 in our atmosphere. Simply put, oysters remove carbon from the ocean thus preventing this carbon from being released into the atmosphere. Through carbon sequestering, oysters can potentially help combat climate change.
The remarkable purifying abilities of Oyster’s are well recognized around the world. The oyster's ability to filter nitrogen and other pollutants from water is environmentally beneficial. For this reason, Oysters are not only a great sustainable food source but also a powerful natural resource for the rehabilitation of estuaries. Oysters are being used in many harbours to help restore their ecosystems. Here are two great examples:
NYC Billion Oyster Project
“Oysters have a remarkable ability to filter nitrogen pollution from water as they eat. This is a heroic feat, because excessive nitrogen triggers algal blooms that deplete the water of oxygen and create “dead zones.”
Oysters play a key role in attracting life. They earn their nickname as “ecosystem engineers” because we see biodiversity levels increase dramatically surrounding oyster reefs.
Restoring oysters and reefs will, over time, restore the local marine ecosystem’s natural mechanisms for maintaining itself, resulting in cleaner water and greater biodiversity.” - Quote from Billion Oyster Project
Click photo to be linked to Billion Oyster Project's website --->
Oysters | Chesapeake Bay Program
"Oysters are natural filter feeders. This means they feed by pumping water through their gills, trapping particles of food as well as nutrients, suspended sediments and chemical contaminants. In doing so, oysters help keep the water clean and clear for underwater grasses and other aquatic life. One oyster can filter more than 50 gallons of water in a single day."- Quote from Chesapeake Bay Program
<---Click photo to be linked to Chesapeake Bay Program.
Cleaning the Chesapeake Bay: Oyster Restoration
Located on Maryland's Western Shore, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Chesapeake Bay Detachment, a 168-acre facility used for research and field testing of radar, remote sensing and optical and laser technologies, is now host to the latest addition to the state's oyster restoration and revitalization effort and the Navy's commitment toward improving overall water quality and enhancing and improving existing wildlife habitats in the Bay.
Video & Description by the NRL
For further reading please see the links below to relevant scientific journal articles.